It’s a *really* short one this week since time is crunched!
With two titles going out to replication this week (*hopefully!*) the little team here is working to keep up with a much brisker schedule for 2017. ‘Flip The Frog‘ is in progress here every day, as are three other projects. We did a bunch of transfers this past week for various sets- and more transfers this coming week.
One of the films I scanned last week was the Flip the Frog cartoon Funny Face. This is a rare 35mm element on this cartoon held by Film Preservation Associates and UCLA. There appears to be one other known print (with original titles, no less!) held privately. One other 35mm print of this short has deteriorated.
Oddly, there are *two* versions of Funny Face. The one that is still extant in 35mm appears to be a ‘second’ version of the film, with closeups of the Betty Boop-esqe character redrawn, changing her hair style. This print appeared on the great Cartoons that Time Forgot DVD and VHS tapes, compiled by Greg Ford. It was unusual in that the only version that had been seen for many years seemed to be the *original* version of the film, with some edits to remove the ‘Gay’ mask gag (but leaving the black stereotype intact). This is the version that was used for most of the 40s prints of the film as well as the later Blackhawk prints.
Since we just did a new transfer of the 35mm print, I thought it would be fun to do a quick side by side comparison. On the right is the ‘first’ version, from Blackhawk’s 16mm master positive on 1967 Kodak film stock (transferred for the ‘Willie Whopper’ set). On the
right left is the 35mm element, on 1936 or 1956 nitrate film stock. It appears to be a master positive for printing.
My guess is that there was a concern that the character appeared too close in resemblance to Betty Boop, and was likely changed before the first release of the film, or at least while the Iwerks Studio still had the backgrounds for the shots that were changed. My guess would be that MGM prompted the change, but that is just a guess. It is interesting that the other version was so rare.
Speaking of Betty Boop, this past week Thunderbean has another ‘Special’ Blu-ray/ DVD combo offer featuring Popeye and Betty Boop Cartoons. These ‘special’ sets help cover replication costs on some of the other Thunderbean Blu-ray sets. Information about this set is on the Thunderbean Website. Go there now!
There are a few challenges on the Flip set: trying to get all the films back to their original versions is the biggest of these challenges, and much harder than I thought it would be- but we’re still marching along on it! The hunt continues for the handful of original Flip title sequences.. more on that next week! Have a good week everyone!